Ralph Wilson has died on Tuesday, leaving a legacy of creating the Buffalo Bills and seeing the team through five decades.
Wilson, who was 95, was one of the longest-serving owners in NFL history. As the last original AFL owner, Wilson founded the Bills in 1959 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
News that Ralph Wilson had died came from the Buffalo Bills beat writer Tim Graham, who broke the news midday on Tuesday. No cause of death was given.
The death of Ralph Wilson comes just days after the team’s Hall of Fame quarterback announced that he is fighting an aggressive recurrence of cancer. Jim Kelly, who last year had surgery to remove cancer from his jaw, has announced through his wife Jill that he is seeking treatment for a new round of cancer.
Sources say that Kelly is in failing health, and he will be traveling to New York City for a surgery this Thursday.
The death of Ralph Wilson leaves the Buffalo Bills in a cloud of uncertainty. The team’s only owner left no public plan for how to hand over the team, and Wilson’s children have expressed that they have no interest in carrying on ownership.
The Bills had been seen as one of the teams that could possibly be relocated to Los Angeles, and with no clear owner in mind the team faces an unclear future.
Ralph Wilson oversaw two AFL championship teams in the 1960s and Buffalo Bills teams in the early 1990s that made four consecutive Super Bowl appearances.